This blog is called Richard’s Eyes because the intent is to show how I see the world. Literally. Through my camera lens. However now I feel a need to use my words so that you, the reader, can see inside me. Basically this is a love story between a man and a cat. Now, if you’re still reading after that last sentence you are probably an animal lover like I am. Losing an animal you love is part of being a pet owner, but it is also one of the hardest things you can go through.
The closest family my husband Michael and I have is 277 miles away, so 99.9% of the time it is just us and our pets making our own little family. Ernie came into our lives in June 2002. He was about 8 weeks old and the cutest little thing you have ever seen. Not long after coming home he developed a severe respiratory infection. I can still picture Michael sitting on the bathroom floor for hours with the kitten in his lap while the humidifier hummed nearby. We took care of him night and day and he pulled through, turning into a healthy and happy kitten.
Ernie loved being out back on the screened-in porch. We would always laugh when bedtime came because whichever one of us went outside to bring him in, he would make us chase him all the way around the pool before running in the door. It became a nightly game. One night when we were in the house we heard some splashing in the pool and we ran outside to see that Ernie had fallen in the pool. My heart jumped right up into my throat. He managed to pull himself up the side of the pool all on his own and ran soaking wet into the house and stayed under the bed the rest of the night. I don’t think he ever went near the pool again.
We lost our other cat about 4 years ago so ever since that time it has just been the three of us. Richard, Michael and Ernie, we were quite the team. It was not long after losing Bert that we found out Ernie was diabetic. I’ll never forget the morning that we found him passed out in his water bowl. We rushed him to the vet and he spent the day on an IV while they ran tests to figure out what was wrong. It was a scary time as we had never taken care of a diabetic animal before and the thought of giving two insulin shots a day was a bit overwhelming. Neither one of us had ever even handled a syringe before. How would we keep the cat still while we plunged a needle into him? Like anything though, you do what you have to do. We promised Ernie we were going to take care of him so that’s what we were going to do. We spent the next few years keeping track of his food and water, testing his glucose levels and giving him insulin shots. He took it like a trooper. He would sit on the counter and wait for his shot, after which he knew he was going to get a good brushing. Michael became an expert at glucose testing and I became an expert at giving shots. Needless to say we both became experts in brushing.
We sold our house with the pool and bought a condo, however the condo wasn’t ready right away so we had to rent temporarily for about 4 months. We found a place that allowed pets and the three of us moved in. We were worried how Ernie was going to adjust but he made himself right at home. As long as the three of us were together, all was good with the world. Eventually we moved into the condo and again he made himself right at home.
Ernie and I had a little trick we would do. I would kiss the top of his head and then he would kiss my head. This would go on as long as I would let it. He would never be the one to stop first.
Ernie left us about a month ago after a bout with pancreatic cancer. That was one of the hardest times of my life taking care of him and trying to enjoy what limited time we had left together. He wasn’t eating much and was getting weaker every day, but he still enjoyed his time with his Dads, sitting on our laps or getting brushed. I can still see his face when he was sitting on the balcony sniffing the fresh air. He loved sitting on his balcony.
During that last month, Ernie developed a habit of wanting to take an afternoon nap together on the couch. If I wasn’t in the living room, he would come find me and tell me it was time for our afternoon session. I would lie on the couch and he would nap either between my legs or in the crook of my right arm with his head on my shoulder. Never the left arm, always the right. I would watch television or nap right along with him. One day as we were laying there he pulled his head up and put it on the pillow right beside mine and just laid there staring at me. As I looked in his eyes I felt as if he was telling me it was OK to let him go now. Was I just reading into this what I wanted to? I don’t know. But as I lay there contemplating all that was wrong with the world, Ernie reached up and licked my cheek where a tear had fallen. That was it, I had gotten his message loud and clear. Don’t cry for me Dad, I’ve had a good life, I’m tired and I’m ready to go.
Ernie has been gone a month now and I still have not found a way to say goodbye. So I am going to say goodnight. Goodnight my sweet boy. Thank you for all the companionship for so many years. Thank you for kissing my head and letting me brush you. Thank you for being a light in my life and a love in my heart. I hope to see you someday waiting for me at the rainbow bridge.
And that’s the way I see it.